Abnormal Interviews: James Daily of The Law and the Multiverse Blog

Today, we here at Abnormal Use once again continues our series, “Abnormal Interviews,” in which we conduct brief interviews with law professors, practitioners, and other commentators in the field. For the latest installment, we turn once more to lawyer blogger James Daily of The Law and the Multiverse blog, an incredibly fun site in which the authors apply the laws of the real world to the exploits of comic book superheroes. You might recall that we interviewed James and his co-blogger Ryan Davidson way, way back in March 2011. James was kind enough to submit to a second interview with Abnormal Use, which is as follows:

JIM DEDMAN:  We first interviewed you in March 2011, just a few months after the blog debuted in late 2010. In the years since, what is the most important lesson you have learned as a legal blogger?

JAMES DAILY: I’ve learned a few different lessons, but it’s hard to say which is the most important.  One thing I’ve learned is to change it up from time to time.  Some of my most popular posts have been about unusual topics, such as the contract from The Hobbit.  They’ve also been a nice change of pace for me.

DEDMAN: You’ve achieved an immense amount of attention as a result of the site, including interviews with national publications, a book deal, and even your own Wikipedia entry. What do you feel has been your biggest success with the site?

DAILY:  All of that attention has been a continual surprise.  I think the biggest success has been that I still get more questions from readers than I have time to fully answer.  It underscores the point that there is still tons of material to write about, and as an attorney it’s always a great feeling when someone wants to know your opinion about a legal issue, even a fictional one.

DEDMAN: As the blog approaches its fourth anniversary, what challenges do you face in continuing to find new material for the site?

DAILY:  The main challenge I have is finding the time to write, not finding new material.  I have a backlog of dozens of questions from readers, and I’ve fallen behind on Daredevil and She-Hulk, to say nothing of less law-focused comics.  The creativity and breadth of questions from readers never ceases to amaze me.  They often come up with better post ideas than I could.

DEDMAN:  Since the blog came into being in 2010, what has been your favorite reaction from a reader to the site and its mission?

DAILY:  I have received quite a few letters from law students, lawyers, and comic book fans that include some version of “I’m so glad I found the site.  I thought I was the only one that thought about this kind of stuff.”  It validates the thesis of the site, and I think it’s great that the blog has contributed to a community of sites centered around discussing the law and pop culture.

DEDMAN: As you know, there is a burgeoning movement of “real” superheroes out there making news in some jurisdictions. What have you learned from writing the site that might be of benefit to them?

DAILY: The main thing I’ve learned is that it would be very, very difficult to be a comic book-type superhero that stays within the bounds of the law and yet still does more than act as a member of the neighborhood watch.  The law has evolved to frown on “self-help”, with the possible exception of modern stand-your-ground and castle laws.  It’s a legal tightrope act without a net, and I don’t recommend it.

DEDMAN:  Is service by publication the only way to serve a superhero or villain with a lawsuit?

DAILY:  It depends on the superhero or villain.  Some superheroes have very public identities (e.g. Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk and Tony Stark/Iron Man).  Even some villains act more-or-less in the open, such as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin.  And of course even a villain such as The Joker could be served during one his many (brief) stays in Arkham Asylum.  Even more reclusive characters such as Batman and Superman have accepted process (subpoenas anyway) at the Justice League headquarters on the Moon.  A really aggressive process server might stage a crime (with a “victim” who was in on it) in order to attract a superhero’s attention.  That might make for an interesting comic book story!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

DEDMAN:  What has been your favorite post since you founded the site?

DAILY:  I have trouble picking my favorite anything, but I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview Mark Waid (writer of Daredevil, among many other things) and Daniel Reeve, the artist who created the contract for The Hobbit movies.  That was definitely something made possible by the success of the rest of the blog.  I enjoyed being able to take a peek behind the scenes and hopefully ask questions that my audience would want to know about that wouldn’t be asked elsewhere.  Since you’ve also interviewed Mark Waid (and a host of other interesting folks), I think you can understand the appeal.

DEDMAN:  What is your favorite superhero movie?

DAILY:  Another favorites question!  I’m going to punt and say the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  But honestly the MCU movies have been so consistently good that it’s tempting to say all of them.  I’ve generally enjoyed them more than the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, although The Wolverine and Days of Future Past were quite good.

DEDMAN:  What do you feel is the most disastrous depiction of the legal process in popular culture, and why?

DAILY:  That’s a tricky one.  Disastrously wrong or disastrous for its negative impact on society’s perception of lawyers or the legal process?  I tend to shy away from writing about stories that get the law laughably wrong, since it’s not much fun to beat up on someone’s creative work, especially when legal accuracy is rarely central to the plot.  I’ll leave that to the experts.

BIOGRAPHY:  James Daily is an attorney licensed in Missouri and a graduate of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is also registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He and Ryan Davidson started the Law and the Multiverse blog in November of 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Friday Links

alf

We here at Abnormal Use are somewhat embarrassed to admit that we were once fans of the television show, “Alf.” But, hey, we all have some mortifying secret from the 1980′s, right? Accordingly, we direct you to the above cover of Alf #33, published way, way back in 1990. Note that the cover depicts a wanted poster for Alf who is, apparently, sought by the law for “illegal entropy” and, our favorite, “impersonating a USDA inspector.” We wonder who defended our favorite alien life form at his criminal trial, but perhaps we will never, ever know (not having read this issue or mustered the energy to seek it out 24 years later). Alas, Alf.

We’ve written a bit about the products liability implications of driverless cars, but what about the criminal law? Apparently, according to Techdirt, the FBI believes that driverless cars will aide criminal enterprises. We’re thinking, perhaps, that the FBI has forgotten about all of the driverless cars that have assisted law enforcement, like KITT from “Knight Rider.”

As a law firm with three offices in the Carolinas, we were surprised to learn that part of the latest X-Men comic book takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, aliens attack the city. For more on that, see here.

Did you hear that Duran Duran has sued the company it hired to run its fan club? If we had filed that lawsuit, we would have concluded our complaint with the phrase “(Save A) Prayer For Relief.” But we’re music nerds.

Are you following Abnormal Use on the Facebook? If not, you can do so by clicking here!

Friday Links

america_vs_jsa

“I accuse the JSA of treason!” exclaims Batman on the cover of America Vs. The Justice Society #1, published not so long ago in 1985. Technically, wouldn’t the proper caption be “United States v. The Justice Society?” We here at Abnormal Use don’t practice in the federal criminal courts, but we seem to recall that it is always the “United States” listed as a party in that type of litigation. And does Batman have enough evidence as required by the U.S. Constitution? Whatever the case, here is the somewhat confusing plot summary from, of course, Wikipedia:

The series was set on Earth-Two and began with the discovery of Batman’s diary (The pre-Crisis Earth-Two Bruce Wayne had been murdered by a criminal named Bill Jensen prior to this adventure as indicated in this story) which indicated that the Justice Society was guilty of treason during World War II and conspired to cover-up their treason after the war was over. The group is put on trial and their history is reviewed. All the historical adventures involving the JSA are remembered, and details are added. It eventually reveals that the diary is a hoax created by Batman in an effort to have the JSA apprehend Per Degaton at a future time that Batman believed he would not be alive for.

Here’s what the drummer of the band Tool told Rolling Stone about the litigation his band is facing: “We’re going to trial and we want to crush them. But every time we’ve gotten close to going to trial, it gets postponed and we’ve wasted money and time and it has just drained our creative energy. We bought an insurance policy for peace of mind, but instead we would have been better off if we never had it and just dealt with the original lawsuit.”

GWB’s own Stuart Mauney has been appointed to a one year term as a member of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs Advisory Committee. The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs has the mandate to educate the legal profession concerning alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression and other mental health issues. Don’t forget:  You can follow Stuart on Twitter here. (Oh, and speaking of Stuart, you should go back in time and read his “Burned At Mediation By My Own Facebook Post!” blog entry from 2012.

Finally, there was a great turnout last night at the North Carolina Legal Geeks event at Charlotte, North Carolina’s Unknown Brewing Company. North Carolina attorney Clark Walton spoke to the group about digital and smartphone forensics. If you’re into legal technology issues, you might consider following @NCLegalGeeks on Twitter.

ABA Releases Ethics Opinion On Juror Social Media Research

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use love writing and blogging, so much so that our editor Jim Dedman is now contributing posts to other online venues.  Recently, his piece, “ABA Releases Ethics Opinion On Juror Social Media Research,” was published in the Defense Research Institute’s Trials and Tribulations Newsletter. In the piece, he surveys and comments upon the recent ABA rulings and notes its broader implications.

Here’s the first two paragraphs of the article:

In 2014, we, as practicing defense lawyers, find ourselves more than a decade into the age of social media in litigation. These days, without fail, nearly every legal publication and trade journal of note features an article about the value of social media in litigation. Over the years, we’ve learned the benefits of an online investigation of Plaintiffs (and the potential for splendid impeachment material which can arise from such queries), efforts to explore the backgrounds of Plaintiffs’ retained testifying experts , and of course, the general perils of lawyers using social media. We all know that prospective and sitting jurors use – and occasionally abuse – social media. In fact, these days, when preparing for trial, litigators rely upon social media data in determining which prospective jurors to consider or strike from the venire panel. Recently, on April 24, 2014, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 466, entitled “Lawyer Reviewing Jurors’ Internet Presence.” Generally, this comprehensive nine page ethical opinion offers guidance to litigators using social media to investigate potential and sitting jurors. Interpreting pre-Internet principles and applying them to the ever growing social media landscape, the new ABA opinion, as persuasive authority, offers guidance on these issues. The bottom line: When preparing for trial and investigating jurors, be mindful of the potential ethical issues at hand.

First and foremost, yes, litigators can investigate and review publicly available social media profiles of sitting and prospective jurors. The ABA opinion provides that “a lawyer may passively review a juror’s public presence on the Internet.” Like many, jurors have profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (and countless other sites), and lawyers can input the juror’s name into their search engine of choice and review the results without fear of ethical implications. This conclusion makes perfect sense, as there is no reason to deprive lawyers of the ability to access information that the juror has published online for the world to see. In the opinion, the ABA committee likens this “passive review” of such public information to a lawyer “driving down the street where the prospective juror lives to observe the environs in order to glean publically available information that could inform the lawyer’s jury-selection decisions.”

For the rest of the article, please click here.

Friday Links

pym

As our editor recently tweeted, we here at Abnormal Use recently stumbled across the comic book cover above, that of Avengers #228, published way, way back in 1983. “At Last! The Trial of Yellow Jacket!” the cover proclaims. If you only know The Avengers from the recent films, you may be unfamiliar with Yellow Jacket a/k/a Hank Pym a/k/a Ant Man a/k/a as Giant Man a/k/a Goliath. He’s also the creator of the villainous robot Ultron (who will apparently be the main menace in the upcoming Avengers film sequel). Anyway, the producers of the Avengers films didn’t see fit to include Pym in the films, despite his status as a founding member of the group in the comics. Let’s just say, though, that he had some issues, as you might suspect from the cover above. Visible in the courtroom are She-Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, and Janet Pym a/k/a The Wasp, whose troubled marriage to Hank was explored in the comics for years. Here’s a summary of the issue we located:

While both the Avengers and the general public anxiously await the outcome of Hank Pym’s trial for treason, Egghead again reforms the Masters of Evil and sends them to the courthouse to free Hank. During the resultant battle with the Avengers, the newly recruited Radioactive Man unleashes a gamma ray burst which changes the She-Hulk back to Jennifer Walters, thus turning the tide in his allies’ favor. Despite the heroes’ best efforts, their opponents succeed in spiriting Hank away, while deliberately leaving behind a brainwashed Shocker to assert that the former Avenger planned his own escape. Now believing that he can never be cleared, the captive Hank is seemingly coerced into aiding Egghead’s latest scheme.

An Avenger on trial for treason, eh? How about that? In fact, we once wrote about this trial back in early 2013. For that edition of Friday Links, please see here.

In case you missed it, South Carolina Bar President Cal Watson penned an editorial entitled “Lawyers fight for America’s founding principles” for The State newspaper. You can read it here.

You know, we write a lot about McDonald’s litigation and hot coffee, but we’ve never written about bears at McDonald’s.

Friday Links (Fourth of July Edition)

rr

Happy Fourth of July, dear readers! We assume that you, like us, are out of the office today, but we certainly felt obligated to prepare a patriotic edition of Friday Links for today! We hope that everyone has a safe and festive holiday weekend, and we encourage everyone to pause briefly to remember what happened 238 years ago today. In the spirit of the day, above, you’ll find the cover of Roger Rabbit #15, published not so long ago in 1991. We wonder if the children of today know of Roger Rabbit or still watch the classic 1980′s film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? We certainly hope so. To visit our prior Fourth of July posts (and see some other spirited comic book covers), please see here, here, here, and here.

As always, we will return to regular posting on Monday.

At Last, A Resolution To Our 2011 Challenge To Reed Morgan, The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Plaintiff’s Attorney

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use like to write about the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee case. Twenty years after it was tried, it remains an interesting piece of litigation, not just because of the facts and its effect on the litigation culture, but also because there are so few primary sources available to the general public. We have a number of secondary and tertiary sources in the form of editorial opinion columns, television documentaries, and the like. However, few commentators rely upon the actual pleadings, motions, and witness testimony in the underlying case. That is why in early, early 2011, we prepared a FAQ file based on some primary sources available to us at that time.

Back in 2011, we were scouring the Earth for a copy of the 1994 trial transcript. It was, of course, unavailable from the court itself, as trial transcripts are not typically filed with the clerk of court (and we doubt that the court reporter would have a 17 year old trial transcript available for order). The case was settled shortly after the trial, so any appellate record would be slight, if existent at all.

Accordingly, on June 28, 2011, we issued a challenge to Reed Morgan, the McDonald’s hot coffee Plaintiff’s attorney, asking him to release the trial transcript (assuming he still had it after all of these years).

You can read that post here. In it, we noted as follows:

 The only parties with access to all relevant information are the McDonald’s corporation and Liebeck’s estate. Despite the protestations of the plaintiff’s bar and Saladoff, the McDonald’s corporation has remained curiously tight-lipped about the case over the past 17 years. There’s no evidence that this major company has engaged in any public relations campaign; and if they had, it has not been very successful, as many people are unaware of the basic facts of the case.

If the plaintiff’s bar truly wishes to expose the “truth” behind the case, then they should look to one of their own: S. Reed Morgan of S. Reed Morgan & Associates (now of the Law Offices of S. Reed Morgan, P.C.) of Comfort, Texas, the lead plaintiff’s attorney who represented Liebeck during the original trial. Presumably, Morgan has a whole host of original material which could shed additional light on the case but which are not currently in the public record. By this, of course, we refer to deposition transcripts, discovery responses, and the trial transcript, none of which is readily available in any form. Allowing the general public, as well as legal scholars and researchers, to review this material would shed much light on the case and allow partisans of any persuasion to use the actual evidence from the actual trial to advance their agendas. (Saladoff had access to at least some of this material, although it’s unclear from whom she obtained it; she told IndieWire that she “was able to secure the transcript of the trial, and then went to Albuquerque where the case was tried, located the family, the lawyers, jurors, the doctor, and started talking to as many people as possible who would talk to me.”)

We never heard from Mr. Morgan in response to the post. Perhaps he never saw it, and we doubt a defense oriented law blog is atop the list of his concerns. To be honest, all these years later, the post had sunk into the deep recesses of our memory until last week when we saw that Mr. Morgan himself had commented on the post. Last Wednesday, almost three years to the day after our original blog post on the issue ran, he post a comment and remarked:

The trial transcript is on record at the court. Any competent lawyer knows this. So I question this so-called “challenge” as written to serve any purpose other than to create an image that I have the transcript. Of course, I do not have it. Reed Morgan

We were very pleased to see that he had read our post all these years later. The following day, we responded to the comment as follows:

Reed, we appreciate your comment and thank you for visiting our site. Over the years (and again, more recently), we have reviewed the documents available from the Civil Division of the Bernalillo County Courthouse where the case was tried in 1994. In fact, the Civil Division maintains a file of 1,070 pages comprised of the pleadings, motions, and other publicly filed documents. Unfortunately, the trial transcript is not one of the documents publicly on file or available for ordering from the court. I suspect that it might have been easier to locate or obtain in 1994, but not in 2011 (when the post to which you were responding was written and published).

In fact, anyone can visit the relevant New Mexico state court website and access its online docketing system. The official website of the State of New Mexico Second Judicial District Court maintains a case look-up function which one can utilize to see the full docket sheet for the Liebeck v. McDonald’s matter. The relevant entry offers a comprehensive accounting of the case, listing all of the hearings that took place in 1993 and 1994 as well as a description of the civil complaint and a register of actions activity ranging from the filing of the complaint on March 12, 1993 all the way to March 28, 2007 (reflecting the ultimate fate of certain exhibits). The bulk of the entries, however, range from 1993 to 1995.

Generally, a trial transcript is not something that one can obtain directly from the trial court by pulling the pleadings on file. Sometimes, when a case is appealed, one might be able to obtain the trial transcript from an appellate court (if the transcript has been requested from the court reporter), but an appeal was not meaningfully pursued in Liebeck because the case resolved in late 1994 just a few months after the verdict. Trust us when we say that in 2011 we looked many, many places to obtain a copy of the trial transcript before issuing our challenge to Reed Morgan. We are elated that he ultimately replied, although all these years later, we are no longer looking for a copy.

Friday Links

prince

We here at Abnormal Use never meant to cause you any sorry and we never meant to cause you any pain. (Those are lyrics we’re paraphrasing, as if you didn’t recognize them!). This past Wednesday, June 25, 2014, was the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Prince and The Revolution’s Purple Rain album. So, of course, we had to mention that on the blog this week. Above, you’ll find the cover of Rock N’ Roll Comics #21, published not so long ago in 1991. We encourage you, our dear readers, to revisit this album over the weekend and report back to us on Monday with your thoughts. Being law nerds, we decided to turn to the case law and see how often, if at all, the courts have referenced “Purple Rain.”

Although we harbored some initial doubts about dedicating a post to an album by Prince, in the end, we figured we would throw caution to the wind. So here we go.

If you plug the phrase “Purple Rain” into Westlaw, 17 cases appear in the results. Most of those cases reference night clubs, recreational drugs, or commercial tanning products named “Purple Rain.”

But we thought we’d share the three we found most interesting.

A relatively recent North Carolina federal court case, Controversy Music v. Mason, No. 5:09–CV–488–BR (E.D.N.C. June 24, 2010) involved a copyright action in the default judgement setting). The relevant paragraph:

Plaintiffs are the exclusive copyright owners of the three musical recordings—“Purple Rain”, “Yo, Excuse Me Miss”, and “Please Don’t Go”—specified in this case. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on 10 November 2009, alleging that Defendant infringed upon the specified copyrights by giving unauthorized public performances of their works on both specific occasions and in an ongoing manner at Club International, owned by Defendant. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant’s actions constituted willful violation of their rights, because the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), of which Plaintiffs are members, advised Defendant several times of his potential liability for copyright infringement. By way of the instant motion, Plaintiffs seek statutory damages of $5,000 for each of the three copyright infringements, reasonable costs and attorney’s fees in the amount of $2,650.71, and a permanent injunction against Defendant prohibiting him from publicly performing any of the copyrighted materials in ASCAP’s repertory without authorization.

In CBS Inc. v. Pennsylvania Record Outlet, Inc.,  598 F.Supp. 1549 (W.D. Pa. 1984). The record store defendant was sanctioned for continuing to sell imported Canadian copies of Purple Rain – and other albums – after representing in a consent decree that it would not do so. The opinion has several references to agents of the Plaintiff buying copies of Purple Rain – and albums by Dio and Twister Sister – on various dates in 1984.

Back in 1989, the Amarillo Court of Appeals in Texas issued its opinion in Guss v. State, 763 S.W.2d 609 (Tex. App. – Amarillo, 1989, no writ). In that case, the defendant-appellant, charged with murder, appealed an issue relating to jury destruction. The defendant’s alias was “Purple Rain.” In fact, the full style of the case is Lisa Guss, A/K/A “Purple Rain,” Appellant, v. The State of Texas, Appellee.

So, dear readers, we recommend that you read the aforementioned three cases and find your cassette tape of Purple Rain and enjoy the weekend.

pr

Kansas Federal Court Rebuffs Overly Broad Social Media Discovery Requests

Here we go again. Just as we’ve discussed before, the courts are limiting overly broad social media discovery requests served by defense counsel. The latest example:  Smith v. Hillshire Brands, No. 13–2605–CM (D. Kan. June 20, 2014). At its essence, Smith is an employment discrimination case in which the pro se Plaintiff alleged violations of both Title VII and FMLA. The specifics of the dispute need not be spelled out in detail as you’ve heard it all before.

Now, there were a number of components to the discovery dispute in this matter, but the social media discovery requests at issue were these:

Request No. 15: All documents constituting or relating in any way to any posting, blog, or other statement you made on or through any social networking website, including but not limited to Facebook .com, MySpace.com, Twitter.com, Orkut.com, that references or mentions in any way Hillshire and/or the matters referenced in your Complaint.

Request No. 18: Electronic copies of your complete profile on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter (including all updates, changes, or modifications to your profile) and all status updates, messages, wall comments, causes joined, groups joined, activity streams, blog entries, details, blurbs, and comments for the period from January 1, 2013, to present. To the extent electronic copies are not available, please provide these documents in hard copy form.

How curious to see a reference to Orkut in a social media discovery case! We wonder if the defendants had specific knowledge that the Plaintiff used Orkut or if that social media platform simply appears in all of their discovery requests.

Now, as you might imagine, Request No. 15 is legitimate and narrowly tailored, as it limits itself to social media postings relating to the employer or the events being litigated.

In fact, Plaintiff didn’t object to either of the requests, opting instead to produce – or claim to produce – all relevant documents. The dispute arose, however, when the employer defendant doubted that all documents had been produced.

Yes, the employer took the position that it could discover all of the Plaintiff’s social media activity as a result of his claims in the lawsuit. Skeptical of this argument, the Court noted:

Request No. 18 raises a more complex issue, as it seeks documentation of all of plaintiff’s activity on the named social networks since January 1, 2013, regardless of whether the activity has anything at all to do with this case or the allegations made in plaintiff’s complaint. Defendant asserts that this broad swath of information is relevant for at least two reasons. First, it “provide[s] a contemporary diary of Plaintiff’s activities, thoughts, mental/emotional condition, and actions,” which relate to plaintiff’s claim for damages arising from emotional distress. Second, it may support defendant’s “defense that Plaintiff abused his FMLA leave, which is the true reason for Plaintiff’s termination .” Defendant contends that the protective order governing this case adequately addresses plaintiff’s privacy concerns.

As it currently stands, the record does not support defendant’s extremely broad discovery request for all-inclusive access to plaintiff’s social media accounts. As plaintiff notes, such access could reveal highly personal information—such as plaintiff’s private sexual conduct—that is unlikely to lead to admissible evidence in this case. Information on social networking sites is not entitled to special protection, but a discovery request seeking it nevertheless must meet Fed.R.Civ.P. 26′s requirement that it be tailored “so that it ‘appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.’ “ “Otherwise, the Defendant would be allowed to engage in the proverbial fishing expedition, in the hope that there might be something of relevance in Plaintiff’s [social networking] account[s].” The court agrees with courts that have recognized that a discovery request for unfettered access to social networking accounts—even when temporally limited—would permit the defendant “to cast too wide a net” for relevant information.

As some defendants do, the employer in this case attempted to justify the breadth of the requests by pointing to the emotional distress damages alleged by the Plaintiff. This works, sometimes, and it’s not a bad argument. As social media profiles often showcase our daily lives and the emotions we experience in our lives, what better evidence can there be to support or rebut claims of emotional distress than such things? On this point, the court was cautious:

Based on the limited record before it, the court finds it prudent to follow what appears to be the intermediate approach taken by courts addressing this issue—to allow defendant to discover not the contents of plaintiff’s entire social networking activity, but any content that reveals plaintiff’s emotions or mental state, or content that refers to events that could reasonably be expected to produce in plaintiff a significant emotion or mental state. The court concludes that this approach will permit defendant to discover information relevant to plaintiff’s emotional state, which he has put at issue, while protecting plaintiff from a fishing expedition into every thought he reduced to writing on the internet since January 1, 2013.

But it was one remark by the court that caught our eye and forced us to recognize once again the potential perils of overly broad discovery requests. Behold, the court’s suggestion that such things could be turned around on defendants:

Indeed, if the court were to accept defendant’s position on the scope of relevant discovery, defendant would likely be unhappy with the ramifications. For example, every Facebook post of every Hillshire manager and supervisor involved in the decision to terminate plaintiff could be deemed relevant because it might show discriminatory pretext.

No one wants that. Let’s be careful out there, okay?

Friday Links

mtu51
“Chaos in the Court!” proclaims the cover of Marvel Team-Up #51, published way, way back in 1976. In that issue, Spider-Man and Iron Man join forces to defeat a villain in a courtroom. Look closely in the top right hand corner and you’ll see the judge at his bench desperately attempting to dodge the bad guy. We can only assume that the people depicted fleeing at the bottom of the cover are lawyers or other courtroom personnel. We may need to investigate how this one turned out, but we suspect superhero battles violate the court’s local rules. If you’re curious, you can find a summary of this issue here.

You need to read about this odd lawsuit involving Eddie Murphy.

An interesting – but likely doomed – argument: “Attorneys for two people convicted in a federal mortgage fraud case are asking for a new trial, in part because they say their clients’ rights were violated when prospective jurors who did not meet the dress code at the federal courthouse in Orlando were turned away by security.” For more, please see this news article by Lyda Longa of The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

If you’re feeling some nostalgia for New Coke, you might be in luck. Click here for a trip down memory lane. (Or, if you’re a young associate, and you’ve never heard of New Coke, click that link, as well.).

Don’t forget! We here at Abnormal Use are at the North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting in Wilmington, North Carolina today! If you see us, say hi!